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Rath v. Rath

Supreme Court of North Dakota

February 24, 2016

Kayla Rath, Plaintiff
v.
Mark Rath, Defendant and Appellant

Page 475

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 476

Appeal from the District Court of Burleigh County, South Central Judicial District, the Honorable James S. Hill, Judge.

Kayla Rath, plaintiff; no appearance.

Mark A. Rath, self-represented, Bismarck, N.D., defendant and appellant; on brief.

Lisa Fair McEvers, Daniel J. Crothers, Carol Ronning Kapsner, Joel D. Medd, S.J., Gerald W. VandeWalle, C.J. The Honorable Joel D. Medd, S.J., sitting in place of Sandstrom, J., disqualified. Opinion of the Court by McEvers, Justice.

OPINION

Page 477

McEvers, Justice.

[¶1] Mark Rath appeals from orders denying his various motions, including motions for orders to show cause, for an ex parte interim order to modify a judgment, and for recusal. We conclude the district court did not err in refusing to hold Kayla Rath in contempt, did not err in denying his request to modify the judgment, and did not err in conducting a hearing on his motions. We further conclude the court did not abuse its discretion in its award of attorney fees to Kayla Rath and in refusing

Page 478

to recuse himself from this case. We affirm.

I

[¶2] In January 2013, Mark Rath and Kayla Rath were divorced. The divorce judgment awarded Kayla Rath primary residential responsibility for the parties' two children, and Mark received supervised parenting time at the Family Safety Center. Since entry of the divorce judgment, Mark Rath has filed numerous post-judgment motions in the district court, some of which have been previously addressed by this Court. See Rath v. Rath, 2015 ND 22, 861 N.W.2d 172; Rath v. Rath, 2014 ND 171, 852 N.W.2d 377; Rath v. Rath, 2013 ND 243, 840 N.W.2d 656.

[¶3] Mark Rath has continued making numerous motions in the district court, and the court has entered orders addressing those motions. In September 2014, Mark Rath moved the court for an order to show cause, again seeking to hold Kayla Rath in contempt and asserting she was frustrating his visitation and interfering with his telephone visitations. In November 2014, he filed a request for an ex parte interim order to modify the judgment. In December 2014, he filed what he captioned a " Challenge to Jurisdiction and Motion to Set Aside Void Orders." The court held a hearing on March 9, 2015. On the same day as the hearing, Mark Rath filed another motion seeking to hold Kayla Rath in contempt. He also moved the court for recusal. The court ultimately entered several orders denying his various requests for relief and also ordered him to pay attorney fees of $750.

[¶4] On March 20, 2015, Mark Rath filed a notice of appeal from an " order denying motion for order to show cause dated March 09, 2017 [sic], conclusion of law and order dated March 17, 2015, Order denying Order to show cause and motion for recusal dated March 18, 2015." On the same day, he filed an " amended" notice of appeal, appealing from the " order denying motion for order to show cause dated March 17, 2017 [sic], conclusion of law and order dated March 17, 2015[,] Order denying Interim Order dated March 17, 2015, Order denying Order to show cause and motion for recusal dated March 18, 2015." On March 23, 2015, Mark Rath filed a " supplemental" notice of appeal, which, in addition to the orders previously identified in his amended notice, added the " Order denying Jurisdictional Challenge dated March 17, 2015," and " order denying demand for Jury Trial dated March 20, 2015."

II

[¶5] Mark Rath raises a number of issues on appeal. He argues the district court violated due process and statutory law by not holding Kayla Rath in contempt for " unilaterally" forcing his telephone calls with the children to be supervised and setting up visitation restrictions; the court's order denying his interim request to modify the judgment was a " misapplication of the order[']s intent and law" ; and the court misinterpreted the judgment and the law in denying the interim request. He also asserts that forcing him and the children to be on speaker phone violates wiretapping and eavesdropping laws and the court erred when it failed to address Kayla Rath's alleged interference with the telephone calls to argue with him and her alleged " increasing frustrations on setting up visitations." He contends the court did not give him a full and fair hearing when it denied him calling Kayla Rath as a witness and erred in not having her attorney submit documentation of her attorney costs.

A

[¶6] Mark Rath argues the district court violated his due process rights

Page 479

and statutory law by not holding Kayla Rath in contempt for " unilaterally" forcing his phone calls to be supervised and setting up visitation " restrictions."

[¶7] Our standard for reviewing the district court's decision whether to impose contempt sanctions is ...


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